The Portland Beavers may have finally found a permanent home.
Last night, the Escondido (Calif.) city council tentatively approved funding for a $50 million downtown ballpark to host the Padres' Triple-A affiliate. If the project does not hit any snags, the ballpark is scheduled to open in time for the start of the 2013 season. In the meantime, the club will play the next two seasons in Tucson as the Tucson Padres.
The Portland club was left without a home after owner Merritt Paulson agreed to convert PGE Park into a soccer-only facility without securing a new ballpark for the Beavers. Several proposals for a new ballpark in the Portland area were either rejected by local leaders or voters, forcing Paulson to put the team up for sale and leave town.
Padres owner Jeff Moorad is in the process of purchasing the team (as of the Winter Meetings, the transaction had not been completed). Moorad's ownership group, North County Baseball, had been negotiating with Escondido officials on the new ballpark.
The project approved by the city council last night includes a commitment by the Padres to keep a team in Escondido for 30 years. Though the deal still needs final approval, a "no" vote from the council would have killed the project. The council and Moorad's group each can back out of the deal before construction is scheduled to start in January 2012. Council members said some changes to the deal will have to happen before they give it final approval.